Following a referendum in March 2002, Switzerland became on 10 September 2002 the 190th Member State of the United Nations. Before joining as a full member, the Host Country was a Permanent Observer to the Organization, as well as an active member of many of its specialized agencies, programmes, funds, and the Conference on Disarmament.
The relationship between the United Nations and Switzerland is governed by the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations concluded on 19 April 1946. For further information on the Host Country Agreement, please refer to the section devoted to the Legal Liaison under the Chapter on the Director-General.
With the Office of the Director-General as the central interlocutor, UNOG maintains close and constructive relations with the Swiss authorities at both federal and cantonal levels. The Director-General of UNOG regularly meets with the appropriate Swiss authorities to review matters of mutual concern. Many questions relate to the Host Country Agreement. These include the status of the Organization and its staff; the application of international agreements relating to privileges and immunities both of the United Nations and of diplomatic missions accredited to it; security matters; the planning and design of the physical conditions for international organizations; and joint activities in the cultural and social fields.
Matters relating to the Host Country Agreement are also addressed by the Diplomatic Committee, which includes a representative of the Host Country.
Host Country Resources
The Diplomatic Committee is a tripartite forum for consultation and discussion of all issues that have an impact on the work of the diplomatic community in Geneva. It endeavours to promote and strengthen the relations between the host country, the diplomatic community in Geneva and UNOG.
The Committee, which meets periodically, is composed of two representatives at ambassadorial level nominated by each regional group, as well as the representative of China. The Chairman of the Committee is selected from among the members on a geographical rotational basis for a one-year term, starting on 1 January of each calendar year. A Vice-President is also selected to act in the absence of the Chairman and automatically assumes the presidency in the following year.
The Committee may consider all questions of general interest, including privileges and immunities, housing, transport and insurance, with a view to expressing opinions and proposing solutions to the host country or to the Director-General of UNOG. The Committee may also discuss with the host country the question of security of missions and their personnel.
Representatives of the host country regularly participate in the meetings of the Committee. The Director-General of UNOG, the Chief of the Protocol and Liaison Service and the Legal Adviser of UNOG, also participate in the work of the Committee. In this regard, they provide it with the necessary assistance and bring to its attention questions of mutual interest concerning the Headquarters Agreement concluded by the international organizations and the Swiss Federal Council in April 1996.